If you don’t know the Timbertrolls yet, you should get yourself acquainted. They’re the masters of fun Timberwolves memes on the internet and they make some of the best .gifs, videos, and photoshops about this team.
This is a great example of what they do. Follow them on Twitter at @timbertrolls.
I know Steve is going to have a great recap for you tomorrow/today, but I thought I’d throw up the video highlights of Ricky Rubio’s first career triple-double just because this stuff is fun to look at.
21 points (one off his career-high) on 9-of-17 shooting, 13 rebounds (career-high), and 12 assists. And most importantly, he did it in a big victory over the Spurs. It wasn’t big in the sense that it changed their season; it just legitimized the triple-double because it happened in a win over a good team (even if they were missing guys). Here are the highlights from the NBA’s YouTube channel. Continue Reading…
Over the next few days on A Wolf Among Wolves, I’ll be breaking down the play of Ricky Rubio since he’s returned from his ACL surgery last March. When Rubio came back on December 12th against the Dallas Mavericks, we all wondered how long it would take him to regain his form. In an attempt to figure out the turning point for Rubio and how we can track his change, I’ve decided to chart various parts of his game. In some areas, I’ve found improvement and in some areas, the numbers don’t bear out a lot of change. But what I have found — and something everybody has noticed — is a change in his game recently that reminds us of his incredible play as a rookie. Today, I’ll be breaking down Ricky Rubio as a scorer:
We’re starting to see results.
The box scores of Ricky Rubio the past few games have been nomadic, moving all over the place. His aggressiveness on the basketball court has been something that we didn’t see in his shortened rookie season. It’s a new style of play in which he’s looking for his own shot because he knows he has to get the defense to respect the chance that he might try to score. If this threat isn’t there, even in the back of the defense’s mind, then it’s a lot easier for them to sit in his passing lanes and ruin the effect he has on a basketball court.
His aggression isn’t something we saw right away. The flashy passing was there the night of the return against the Dallas Mavericks back in December; however, he rarely looked for his own shot in an attempt to keep the defense honest. This could have been due to a lack of confidence, a lack of conditioning in his body, or a lack of strength in the leg he worked so hard to bring back to a professional athletic environment. But regardless, there had to be a turning point with Rubio that finally brought about the spark we’ve seen through him. Continue Reading…
The NBA’s YouTube page is releasing the top 10 plays of a bunch of All-Stars’ careers and Kevin Garnett was one of the first guys they did. I know it’s not totally cool to still love KG because he barks at people and he was mad at Glen Taylor and stuff, but he’s still probably my favorite NBA player of all time. I love watching him even to this day and have a great time seeing the highlights from his career with the Wolves.
Nine of these plays by KG involve the Wolves, one of the plays was in the title clinching game in 2008, and eight of them are in a Wolves uniform. Here are my quick thoughts of remembrance for each play: Continue Reading…
It’s pretty incredible how Ricky sets guys up with the simplest of passes. Derrick Williams has been pretty great about setting his feet over the past 15-20 games and really looks like a good spot-up shooter out there with Rubio. Rubio mentioned after the game that he’s looking to make the extra pass if it’s there, and if not then he’s looking to take the shot himself. Right now, the extra pass is the way to go.
This play got me so excited for a healthy Rubio teaming up with Andrei Kirilenko. Rubio often can beat his man baseline, dribble through the paint and find a cutter. AK is so good at cutting from the weak side that it opens up a lot of possibilities. The great thing about this play is Kirilenko does a slight fake to the baseline before cutting more toward the hoop. I had a great angle of it from the other side and DeShawn Stevenson was looking toward the side, just searching for movement that way from Kirilenko. That slight fake to the baseline moved Stevenson out of the way and opened up an easy lane for Kirilenko to receive the ball. It’s just brilliant basketball.
Ricky and Derrick have tried this spin-off-the-high-post lob play like four or five times this season and Ricky has come up short on every pass, which is odd. This time, he made up for it right away by stealing the pass and finding Barea for a wide-open 3-pointer.
The Wolves were 1-for-2 on lobs to Stiemsma that he tries to bank in with a tap tonight.
I don’t see why you’d ever trap Ricky off the pick-and-roll. It’s not like taking away his jumper is a key to stopping them. You leave someone open and he’ll find it. Or he’ll start the ball movement for a hockey assist.
Derrick Williams is going to get a lot of this pick-and-pop chances with Rubio. His feet are set so he’s going to knock it down.
This last pass wasn’t an assist, but good lord it was fun. He tried it once, threw it off of John Jenkins’ thigh, chased down the ball, and threw basically the same pass again. Pek didn’t finish the play but he got to the free throw line.
Alexey Shved notched the first double-double of his career with 12 points, 12 assists, and he even grabbed seven rebounds too. He shot well from 3-point range and turned the ball over just one time. I’d say it was the best game of his short career, considering the match-ups he had throughout the night and the solid defense he played one game after getting annihilated by Dwyane Wade.
I needed to wash away the stank the Chicago Bulls defense put on the Minnesota Timberwolves last night so I decided to check out the final moments of the Pacers-Wolves game from Friday night. There were a couple of hilarious things off to the side on George Hill’s step-back 3-pointer to tie the game and Chase Budinger’s game-winning layup.
First, let’s look at the 3-pointer by George Hill. To start out, let’s recognize how dirty this move by Hill is. He pulls the ball back between his legs to get Dante Cunningham off-balance, then starts moving forward again before he steps back about two feet to shoot a game-tying 3. That’s just unfair. Dante played that possession extremely well and still ended up looking bad. Somehow, George Hill’s ACLs remain intact too.
But something funny happened on the play. Check out the video and notice the spotlight of Lance Stephenson on the bench:
For some reason, Stephenson tripping over the feet of teammate Jeff Pendergraph and then seeing Frank Vogel look down on him, probably wondering what the hell he was doing on the ground just killed me. I’ve watched this sequence maybe 15 times today and can’t stop laughing about it.
Secondly, let’s look at the game-winning play by Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger. The patience of AK47 was fantastic and the coincidentally heady play of Chase to crash the boards on an assumed shot, only to find himself wide-open for a pass was just fun to witness. Check out Hill’s reaction to the play in real time though. It’s not even over yet and he can’t believe what happened.
We all knew Gerald Green was hilariously asleep on the play and lost where Chase was. But I didn’t notice Hill wondering what the hell Green was doing before the game-winner had even left Chase’s hands. Again, watching this a bunch of times today left me laughing at the final moments of an awesome game.
I’m sure I wouldn’t be as entertained by it if the roles were reversed and the Wolves lost that game, but alas, we have the good fortune of getting to laugh about a great win for the team.
Now let’s never speak of the Bulls’ game again. Stupid Nate Robinson…
JJ Barea has been warned by the NBA for a flop against the Sacramento Kings. Jimmer Fredette was dribbling toward the right side of the floor, put his forearm up to clear space from Barea, and was whistled for the foul as Barea snapped his head back.
This is what I like to call “JJ Barea’s Three-Card Monte.” He does this pretty much every game and it usually works in drawing a foul against his opponent. I don’t know that they’re often as fabricated as this one, but it does happen. Either he tricks his opponent into raising their forearm into him and he takes the contact, or he makes it look like they do. Either way, it happens a lot.
Next one for JJ will result in a $5,000 fine from the league office. If Barea does this once a game for all 82 games, it will cost him just over $400,000 of his $4 million salary this season. He didn’t get a chance to do it against the Raptors, but he can make up for that tonight against the bigger Deron Williams.
If you look at that play slowly, it almost looks like Barea brings his arm up into Jimmer’s raised arm and forces Jimmer’s hand near his face. Is that close to the self-flop seen on this play?
Not quite there but it’s close.
Also, it looks like Barea is likely to play tonight. According to Jerry Zgoda, he went through the concussion tests and thinks it “looks good.” Good to know he’s okay and not feeling any ill effects from the collision last night.
It wasn’t a pretty preseason opener in many ways, but the Wolves got to debut some new faces and beat up on an incomplete Pacers team for the victory.
Between the poor 3-point shooting, the grainy Fargo television feed coming through NBA League Pass, lots of turnovers, and a lot of missed free throws, it would have been pretty easy to want to look away from our first glimpse at what the Wolves have to offer this year. Plus, D.J. Augustin was the main point guard for Indiana due to George Hill sitting out and nobody wants to watch him play starter’s minutes. However, we got to watch Wolves basketball once again and it was pretty fun to see the new direction the team is going.
I’m not going to try to find an overarching storyline with a preseason game and look for how it affects the team moving forward. It’s preseason after all. So let’s just try to look at what each individual player did and file it away for later use. Continue Reading…